"Perhaps most shocking is Erdoğan’s assertion that these measures are compatible with democratic principles."-
A few years ago the highest ranking political diplomat of our foreign ministry was visiting. During an internal meeting he kept repeating certain phrases: ‘human rights’, ‘women’s rights’, ‘freedom of expression’ and so on. He went on at length about the growing cooperation with the host nation (and, of course, how important we were in the process of making this a reality).
After the meeting I asked my boss what Mr. Highest-Ranking-Political-Diplomat meant with those phrases.
Boss: “What do you mean?”
Me: “Consider, when you go to a meeting with your local counterpart and talk about human rights, how do you know you are both referring to the same thing when using the term ‘human rights’?”
Boss: “Provided government-to-government officials understand each other, what the public think or understand is irrelevant.”
Then we are left with people somehow astounded that certain leaders believe that certain actions are compatible with democratic principles. Did anyone ever bother to ask Erdoğan was his understanding of democracy was?
Read the rest of the article from which the quote was taken.
"Where the war ends; another war will begin."-
I met Fatma* in during my lunch break over falafel in the old town. She asked me where I was from; as most do since I don’t look Turkish. She asked me about the conditions for Syrians in other cities. Was there any work in Malatya? Was Antakya embroiled in sectarian tension? Was Gaziantep a good place for her and her two children to live? As for her reason for asking: “I don’t want help. I want to work,” she explained.
We conversed in a mixture of broken Turkish (in which she had learned over the past months) and French (in which she is fluent) with the occasional Arabic or English word thrown in. She invited over for coffee one day.
Today, with some baklava in hand, I visited her. In an effort to find commonality, I told her that my father in the late 70s had travelled from Ceylanpınar border gate to Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor before going on to Aleppo. Her eye lit up at the mention of her home town and she turned on the TV to show a channel run by DAESH and glorified footage of war ravaging her city. Her eyes welled up at the sight of ‘home’.
I eventually asked her when she thought the war would end.
"Where the war ends; another war will begin. When Assad goes, then the war will begin. Another 20 years at least."
*Not her real name
- An older diplomat: You must be quite overwhelmed working in the Syria Directorate for your first job.
- The young diplomat: Well, not really. There are so many people in the team that any work I do is checked, like, a hundred times over.
- Me: And also it doesn't really matter when you have a shit policy.
"It is not worth [it] as a photographer, to come back with nothing if you risk your life [covering a story]."-
Freelance photographer Narciso Contreras on the photoshopped image of a Syrian rebel fighter that lead to Associated Press cutting all ties with him.
Contreras was bothered with a camera showing in the bottom left hand corner of the image, so he photoshopped rubble there instead. I can relate. A photographer is constantly tortured and driven by the quest for the “perfect shot”. Contreras over reached.
What strikes me though, the punishment for Contreras is so severe and public for manipulating media content and yet journalists often get away with publishing new reports that are selective of the whole picture.
I woke to the sound of my father’s voice crackling over an international phone line. He sounded better than I could have hoped for. He buried his mother yesterday. He asked me how I was and unable to lie or hide I told him about the trouble at work. As the words fell from my mouth and into the phone, I worried - would he be disappointed or angry or think less of me.
"Life’s too short to be upset about this sort of thing. Keep your chin up."
"Haklıysan korkma, Hak seni korur."- Hz. Ali
Dissenting is simple as offering an opinion where others do not wish for it to be heard.
Every power structure wants to silence dissenting voices.
If you dissent do not expect to survive long.
If you dissent do not expect to have people you have known as friends stand by you. Do not judge them for considering their own welfare before yours; it’s only human.
If you dissent your motives and morals for doing so will always, without fail, be used against you and/or dismissed as irrelevant.
If you dissent you will be “made an example of”.
If you dissent you will feel the social, economic and psychological repercussions for as long as human memory holds.
What is this?
It’s just a kiss.
Then you pause this uneasy pause where all that we leave unsaid stays - a sharp intake -
and exhale words like the Arabic letter ه
Just a kiss.